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Becoming a Golden Hawk means more than just cheering on our (really good) varsity teams – it means being a student who cares about your community, who works hard in the classroom, and who takes advantage of all the learning opportunities that can happen outside the classroom, too.

Construction is underway on a new athletics and recreation facility that promises to transform the streetscape of downtown Brantford and benefit the entire community. This innovative partnership between Wilfrid Laurier University and the YMCA of Hamilton | Burlington | Brantford will expand athletic opportunities for students at our Brantford campus, support campus growth, enhance broader community access to health, wellness and social supports, and further bolster the revitalization of the city’s core.

The new Laurier-YMCA complex is being built on the south side of Colborne Street, between Grand River Hall and the municipal parking walkway, opposite Harmony Square. The facility’s distinctive design – which allows for a magnificent view across to the nearby Grand River – earned architectural firm CannonDesign an award of excellence from Architect Magazine.

The 118,000-square-foot facility will include:

  • An aquatic centre for teaching, fitness, therapy and leisure;
  • Multi-purpose spaces for fitness classes and social, educational and cultural programming;
  • Teaching spaces for community education;
  • Cardio, strength and weight areas for individual fitness and community-based health-care programs; and
  • Large gymnasium and multi-purpose studios.

When complete, the centre will serve residents of Brantford, Brant County and Six Nations, the postsecondary institutions in the community, including Laurier and Conestoga College, as well as visitors. We look forward to an official opening in mid-2018.

Succeeding Together

Collaborative partnerships have been central to the success of Laurier’s Brantford campus since it opened in 1999 with just one building and 39 students. The new Laurier-YMCA complex is no exception. This initiative is possible thanks to community input and funding support from many sources, including the City of Brantford, provincial and federal governments, our Students’ Union, and private donors.

The Laurier-YMCA complex will serve all members of the community, from student athletes to toddlers taking their first aquatic classes and adults participating in cardiac rehabilitation programs. Because of the YMCA’s policy of making its facilities available to all regardless of ability to pay, the new facility will be truly universally accessible. We are excited by the prospect of introducing local youth and families to a university campus environment, and anticipate this partnership will result in improved social and health outcomes across the community.

Unearthing Brantford’s Past

The story of Brantford’s people and its past can be told with new insight thanks to the nearly 400,000 artifacts unearthed during the archaeological-discovery phase of the Laurier-YMCA building project. These objects, some of which date as far back as 500 BCE, add a new and important dimension to this community initiative. They tell the story of the people who called this area home from the Late Woodland period to the 21st century. According to archeologists, the quantity and calibre of the artifacts found rank it as the most significant archeological discovery in Ontario since the construction of the Rogers Centre, formerly known as the SkyDome, in the 1980s. As a university, we’re thrilled to be part of such a compelling educational discovery.

Among the items unearthed at the site are:

  • Pottery shards from the Late Woodland peoples;
  • Relics from the early European settlers, including a delicate Davenport teacup; and
  • Several coins, including an Upper Canada sloop penny from the 1820s.

There has been a great deal of interest in these objects. Exploring how best to display them and make them available to the community will be a priority for us going forward.

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